Renewables rise, helping nation to transition toward green, low-carbon development
A timely combination of technological innovation, mega-sized hardware and strategic investments has made China's renewable energy industry not only the world's largest system in that category, but a driver of green and low-carbon development, thereby helping the country in its pursuit of high-quality development, said industry experts and market observers.
China's energy technology innovation capability has continued to improve over the past few years. Technologies related to high-capacity offshore wind turbines, tidal energy generation and crystalline silicon photovoltaic technology are undergoing accelerated upgrades, according to Rao Jianye, vice-president of the China Electric Power Planning &Engineering Institute.
Many of the innovative projects are already in operation. These range from the Baihetan hydropower station to the world's largest desert-based wind and solar energy project in the Kubuqi Desert and the Shengli Oilfield million-metric-ton-level Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage project, he said.
China's total installed capacity of hydropower, wind power, solar power and biomass power generation ranks first in the world now.
Huang Runqiu, minister of ecology and environment, said the technological progress and large-scale application of renewable energy in China have greatly reduced the cost of renewable energy in recent years.
Figures released by the ministry show that China supplies 50 percent of the wind power equipment and 80 percent of the photovoltaic module equipment to the rest of the world. In 2021, the installation cost of global photovoltaic equipment had decreased by about 82 percent compared with the cost in 2010, while the installation cost of wind power equipment had decreased by at least 35 percent, the ministry said.
Despite the large-scale development of new energy sources, their reliable operational capacity remains below 5 percent, making them unreliable for substantial substitution, said Rao.
It is essential to further develop new technologies, such as wind and solar power forecasting, integrated control technology, new energy storage and load control technology, he said.
Li Sheng, president of the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute, said it is necessary to step up efforts in research and development in cutting-edge technologies to support the energy transition.
He suggested more efforts should be made in reducing the deployment costs of mature technologies while stepping up R&D investment for new-age technologies, allocating resources aimed at advancing emerging technologies in the energy sector to further facilitate the transition to a more sustainable and efficient energy landscape.
China already has advantages in engineering construction, equipment manufacturing and innovative R&D, taking third place in global energy transition rankings, thus contributing significantly to international renewable energy development, and relevant investments and trade, he said.
China ranks second globally in the Energy Technology Transition Index, according to the Energy Transitions Index Blue Book, unveiled by the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute on Sept 7.
Liu Jizhen, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said although new energy formats like wind and solar power produce low carbon emissions, they have some obvious drawbacks like intermittency, volatility and inconsistency.
As a new wave of energy revolution accelerates, it is also crucial to accelerate the development of ultra-modern technologies, in order to ensure a safe and reliable replacement of new energy, with emphasis on new energy storage and hydrogen energy, he said.
New energy storage refers to electricity storage processes that use electrochemical, compressed air, flywheel and super-capacitor systems, but not pumped hydro.
In-depth research in fields such as large-scale offshore wind power development and integrated management of generation, grid, load and storage are as essential, Liu said.